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Film / Anger Management

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Anger Management is a 2003 comedy film directed by Peter Segal, starring Adam Sandler (who also executive produced), Jack Nicholson, and Marisa Tomei.

The story is about a timid man, David Buznik (Sandler), who is enrolled in Anger Management after he incurs the wrath of Selective Enforcement by lightly tapping a flight attendant on the arm. Hilarity Ensues when the judge assigns him a Cloudcuckoolander named Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson, whom he met on the airplane) as his therapist.

Was adapted into a TV series with the same name on the FX network, starring Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair, with Charlie as the main character who is a former baseball player with anger issues and is also a therapist.

Anger Management provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • Buddy picks up a golf club and a baseball bat before choosing the baseball bat to smash the window of the Lexus. In 1994, Jack Nicholson was cited for smashing a man's window with a golf club in a bout of rage.
    • In the scene where Dave smashes his boss' lamp with a golf club, he says "See, I golf also you should bring me sometime." This is a reference to Happy Gilmore in which Adam Sandler plays a golfer with anger problems.
  • Adam Westing: The Guardian's review of the film described it as starring "Jack Nicholson playing a Jack Nicholson who's not as good a Jack Nicholson as the Jack Nicholson he played in About Schmidt or As Good as It Gets, but a better Jack Nicholson than the Jack Nicholson he played in Somethings Gotta Give."
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Sandler's past roles as a guy with anger problems. Here, he can't express anger. At all.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Lou, one of the patients in Dave's anger group, dresses and speaks in an effeminate manner, but his sexuality is never confirmed. This is even lampshaded by the fact that his mustache is shaved on one side to resemble a question mark. A Deleted Scene hints that Lou is either bisexual or Camp Straight, as he is a Stalker with a Crush towards Jennifer Lopez.
  • Artistic License Religion: When Dave confronts his childhood-bully-turned-Buddhist-monk, Buddy claims that Dave made an offensive joke about Buddha, to which the monk responds "let's not make fun of my god here". Buddhists do not view Buddha as a god, but as a wise teacher with no divinity.
  • Bad Mood as an Excuse: Apparently, the air marshal's bad day is why he was so hostile towards Dave.
  • Batman Gambit: Everything after the air marshal incident. Not including the air marshal himself; mind you (he was having a really bad day), and Arnie Shankman, they're what in math would be called a "removable discontinuity".
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Stacy and Gina,the two porno girls in the group. They seem nice enough but are apparently the reason they're there because Stacy bit Gina's toe off in a fit of rage. Not that she's mad about it anymore, oddly enough, while Gina stabled a guys lips shut because he insulted Stacy.
    • Dave himself. He may be a friendly and passive guy, but once he grows a backbone towards the end, he willingly lets Arnie, Mr. Head, and Andrew have it.
    • Buddy invokes this trope when describing Dave's anger problems.
      Buddy: There are two kinds of angry people: Explosive and implosive. Explosive is the kind of individual you see screaming at the cashier for not taking their coupons. Implosive is the cashier who remains quiet day after day, and finally shoots everyone in the store. You're the cashier.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed:
    • Dave discovers Andrew has a large penis when he stands next to him in a urinal, and nicknames him the "testicle with legs". It only fuels Dave's insecurity since Andrew used to date Linda and Dave himself has a Teeny Weenie.
    • Dave asks Stacy and Gina if penis size really counts:
    Stacy: Alright you see this is where Gina and I always get into a heated debate. I like them when they're really big.
    Gina: And I think it's better when they're enormous.
  • Black Comedy Rape: When Buddy convinces Dave's childhood bully that Dave "convinced his mentally disabled sister to get naked since her clothes had ghosts in them and that his "winky" was a strawberry ice cream cone."
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Dave's rant to Buddy of what he should've told Linda instead of telling her that he was with Kendra: "I was at the bank! I was at the store! I ate bad guacamole and I couldn't stop shitting!"
  • Brick Joke:
    • The seat David was about to get was him between two fat passengers before he sat with Buddy. The end of the movie reveals that the air marshal ended up taking that seat, adding to his bad day.
    • The water gun.
  • Buffy Speak: Sandler, as usual.
    • "I'm not a homophobe. I'm a pulling-out-my-penis-in-front-of-you-ophobe."
    • "She tried to chocolate me to death!"
  • Bullying the Disabled: Dave is accused by this by Arnie when he believes that he sexually harassed his mentally disabled sister. This was just a ploy by Buddy to have Dave take action against his childhood bully.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Buddy looks like a homeless man and acts half-crazy himself, but he still possesses a great deal of quirky, Yoda-like wisdom.
  • But Not Too Black: Buddy, since his mom is shown to be black (in a deleted scene). Though since he calls her "Rose" she might not be his biological mother.
  • Butt-Monkey: David. Everything that happens to him in this movie is because of the oversensitivity and Selective Enforcement of one flight crew. Then it turns out that the flight crew was faking the whole thing, as part of a gambit by Buddy to get David to face his anger issues. Except the air marshal; his hostility was real, because he was having a bad day.
  • The Cameo:
  • Contrived Coincidence: When Dave hops the barricade onto Yankees' Stadium, he's stopped by a security guard. Said security guard happens to be Gary aka. Galaxia, the crossdressing prostitute he encountered earlier in the film. He lets Dave go onto the field.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Nearly everyone is against Dave, not taking his side whenever it involves an inconvenience. Played with, as it's revealed that everyone (aside from the air marshal) was just trying to help him overcome his self-esteem issues.
  • Cue the Rain: After David gets kicked out of Kendra's house, he angrily calls her a porker and a fatty. Then it started to rain as he left to talk to his anger management therapist Dr. Buddy Rydell.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As part of Dave's passive-aggressive way of dealing with his negative emotions, especially towards Buddy.
    Dave: Jeez, without slippy-flippies or angry masturbating, I don't see how [[having fun]] is possible.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Chuck tells his anger management buddies he once ran naked through a subway to win a girl over. His buddy asks him how was that suppose to help. Chuck simply says he guess he never really thought it through.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Either parodied or invoked.
    • Dave is tasered by an air marshall after bugging a stewardess for headphones while she overreacts to every small thing he does.
    • Dave tells Buddy that his mother was going through a serious surgery earlier in the movie when it was a minor one, and how does he get back at him? He makes Dave (almost) cheat on his girlfriend, and then tells her that he did anyway.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: For deliberately sending her passive boyfriend through a month of physical and emotional torture just to make him act different, it's a wonder as to why Linda hasn't been dumped by Dave at this point.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Kendra begins eating lots of brownies when Dave rejected her kindly and takes it the wrong way when Dave tells her she could "gain a few pounds".
  • Dysfunction Junction: Justified, as it eventually turns out that seemingly half the city is in on Buddy's Zany Scheme for Dave.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Linda and Andrew went to the same college, Brown University together, and they may or may not have had sex.
  • Extreme Doormat: Dave. The whole point of the movie is to snap him out of it.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The very first shot is of some girls jumping rope in the street next to a spraying fire hydrant (presumably because of a Heat Wave) while a pair of Hasidic Jews walk by and Blondie's "Heart of Glass" plays from an unseen tape player. (This is to set the opening scene as Brooklyn in the late 1970s, where we will see the cause of the preteen Dave Buznik's social awkwardness.)
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Based on some offhand statements an impatient Dave makes at the beginning of the movie, the air marshal concludes that Dave is sexist, racist, and insensitive to The War on Terror.
  • Fiction Isn't Fair: If it wasn't for the Rule of Funny (as well as David's timidness), he could have sued almost every other character in the movie.
  • For the Evulz: Subverted. In between, we're given the impression of Buddy as a rather nutty Cloudcuckoolander (which he is, by the way) who appears to be torturing Dave just for the fun of his twisted little games, though in end, it turns out that Buddy's Zany Scheme really was just to help Dave overcome his implosive anger problems to get him to stand up for himself.
  • Frame-Up: The flight attendant frames Dave for assault by having a fake body cast to make it look like that the commotion was his fault.
  • Freudian Slip: The waiter when he sees Dave's two fake dates taking off their coats to reveal their clothing:
    Waiter: Would you like a boobs—? Booth?
  • Friendly Scheming: Everything that happened to Dave was a part of Buddy's therapy, and his girlfriend Linda (along with a number of other people) was in on it.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Subverted, as Dave is more creeped out by the gorgeous bisexuals who are his fellow therapy group members than aroused by them. The other males in the group seem to love it.
  • Goofy Print Underwear:
    • Artie Shankman wears saffron-colored bikini briefs under his saffron-colored monk's robe.
    • The Boston Red Sox bra and panties that Kendra wears could count, too.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: When you get Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson together, this is more-or-less unavoidable.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Frank Head, Dave's Mean Boss who makes Dave do all his work and does nothing but belittle him for it.
    • Andrew, Linda's ex-boyfriend and current "best friend" who clearly wants to steal her away from Dave.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Buddy forces Dave to pull his car over on the side of the highway and sing the song "I Feel Pretty." Dave's intonation of "I feel pretty and witty and gay" indicates that he recognizes this trope, and he's feeling both emasculated and humiliated.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As aggressive as Buddy was towards Dave, he does genuinely help him out with his issues involving his childhood bully, mean-spirited boss, and condescending love rival. In fact, it turns out that his aggressive treatment is actually to help him out on his self-esteem issues.
  • Kafka Komedy: The whole film makes it look like the whole world is out to get the meek and polite David, either making him a Butt-Monkey, have Disproportionate Retribution inflicted on him for minor offenses or having him blamed for things well beyond his control. It is revealed in the end that none of this is coincidental, Buddy having used his many, many contacts to orchestrate these events at the request of Linda to make him more assertive.
  • Karma Houdini: Linda and her group of buddies should have been sued or arrested for conspiracy and harassment. Instead, Dave easily forgives them and everything's cool from there.
  • Large Ham: Buddy is Jack Nicholson in unhinged mode, with all the mugging and shouting one would expect. Dave is forced to scale up as a result.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: The gorgeous bisexual porn stars Stacy and Gina.
  • Love Doodles: David's scribblings in his notebook in the opening scene.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: The movie poster.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Buddy thought that David was gay because he makes clothes for cats, despite how many times David had told him that he had a girlfriend. Of course, he knew all along.
  • Mistaken for Racist: "You people." To be fair, the air marshal was just having a bad day.
  • Mood Whiplash: Buddy experiences this more than once.
    • When he suddenly starts blubbering when he thinks his mother has died, and then quickly cheers up.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Chuck says he's done crazier stuff to win over a girl, by running naked through a subway. Although, he did not think that plan through.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: There's no way Buddy can know what he's doing. Oh wait, it turns out he does.
  • Offhand Backhand: Dave delivers one to Andrew towards the end of the film.
  • Overreacting Airport Security: During a flight, a series of annoyances from the flight staff cause Dave to lose his temper and a sky marshal ends up tasing him and Dave is arrested and sentenced to anger management therapy. It's later revealed that everyone, except the air marshal, who was just having a bad day himself, was in on it to piss off the protagonist.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: During Distant Prologue a bully pulls down Dave's gym shorts and underwear in front of Sara, his childhood crush, embarrassing him in front of an extremely crowded and busy neighborhood who all make fun of his Teeny Weenie, including Sara. This proves to become a traumatic memory to Dave's self-esteem, setting the stage for the rest of the film's events.
  • Plane Awful Flight: Dave has to endure a flight where he's stuck sitting next to Buddy, who's acting as obnoxiously as possible, and being ignored by a rude and confrontational flight attendant. He eventually gets tased by a sky marshall who, as it turns out, was having a miserable flight, himself.
  • Planes, Trains, and Imbeciles: Wanting to watch the in-flight movie, Dave asks a flight attendant for a pair of headphones. He watches as she begins chatting and giggling with another flight attendant, and reminds her to bring him his headphones. She eventually closes the curtain shut. He lightly taps her on the arm and continues asking, only for her to ask him to calm down (despite his controlled and considerate tone). He is clear and polite, but she seems to think he is instigating something. An air marshall is brought over, fearing he is a threat to security. The scene cuts to a courtroom, where the flight attendant he lightly tapped is accusing him of assault. He is found guilty. Subverted by the fact that the flight attendant's behavior is staged by Buddy (who is sitting next to him but has yet to introduce himself) in order to provoke Dave. Buddy is using the situation to analyze Dave, having already been hired by Linda to help Dave with his suppressed anger issues. Unfortunately, the air marshal's reaction was genuine; he was not having a good flight.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Despite Arnie, Mr. Head and Andrew being seen as the bad guys for belittling Dave, Linda and the other characters who stressed and harassed Dave for the past month are let off the hook because why not.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Brought up by Buddy.
    Buddy: There's two types of angry people: Explosive, and Implosive. Explosive is the person screaming at the cashier for not taking her coupons. Implosive is the cashier, who stays quiet day by day, until finally one day, shoots everyone in the store... You're the cashier.
    Dave: No, no, I'm the guy in the frozen food aisle dialing 911, I swear.
  • Race for Your Love: Dave runs to the baseball game Buddy and Linda are attending to stop Buddy from proposing to Linda and pop the question himself.
  • Reformed Bully: Played with and ultimately subverted with Artie Shankman, who despite growing up to be a pacifist Buddhist monk repentant for his past turns out to be fairly easily goaded into going back into his bullying ways.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: As part of his "therapy," Buddy takes Dave to confront the bully who used to torment him in school. Dave is less than convinced, especially when it turns out that the bully is living in a Buddhist retreat and has renounced all violence. The bully is very apologetic about his behavior... except for when he pulled down Dave's pants in front of his childhood crush. In fact, he mocks Dave even further. They end up wrestling on the monastery grass.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Chuck, despite the fact that the war he fought in, Grenada, literally lasted less than two months.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: Buddy sleeps in the nude, then cuddles up to David when they have to share a bed.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "I'm sorry I was so rude before, but it's difficult for me to express myself when I am on the verge of exploding in my pants."
  • Suddenly Shouting: Dave, Buddy or anyone in Anger Management when they throw angry fits. Kendra too.
  • Teach Him Anger: Turns out, this is the entire point of Anger Management for Dave, with Buddy being an unbearable Jerkass to regularly putting Dave in uncomfortable situations in the hopes that he would stand up for himself.
  • Teeny Weenie: Dave is revealed to have one when he got pantsed by his bully in front of his childhood crush. Even as an adult, he shows himself to be very insecure about it.
  • Too Many Halves: Chuck claims to be "half-Irish, half-Italian, half-Mexican."
  • Trickster Mentor: Buddy is actually being obnoxious on purpose to get Dave to grow a spine.
  • Wedgie: The film opens with the local bully giving a wedgie to an unsuspecting kid. Later, the bully's wedgie victim roller skates off into the distance while laughing at Dave's Teeny Weenie.
  • Weight Woe: Kendra believes she's getting fat despite being a very slim pretty woman. Then she starts stuffing her face with brownies when Dave rejects her.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played straight with the flight attendant, but later subverted when he hits the cocktail waitress, by accident.
  • Yandere: Kendra, who throws a violent tantrum after being politely denied sex by Dave. It makes sense that she was one of Buddy's former patients, and he used her as a ploy to get back at Dave for jokingly exaggerating his mother's condition.